The Hong Kong Monetary Authority has selected 16 firms to participate in trials of an e-HK CBDC pilot programme.
The central bank committed to exploring further the potential for a retail central bank digital currency (CBDC) in September, after a positive response to consultations scoping out the technical and policy perspectives.
The first round of pilots will take deep dives into potential use cases in six categories, including full-fledged payments, programmable payments, offline payments, tokenised deposits, settlement of Web3 transactions and settlement of tokenised assets.
Under the Pilot Programme, the HKMA will work in close collaboration with selected stakeholders to examine the use cases, as well as implementation and design issues.
Financial institutions involved in the trails include Bank of China, China Construction Bank, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Fubon Bank, HSBC and Standard Chartered. Ant Group’s Alipay will also test the e-HKD’s programmable payment use cases through its Hong Kong unit. Other participants include Ripple Labs, Visa and Mastercard.
The HKMA aims to share the key learnings with the public at Hong Kong FinTech Week 2023 and to conduct more rounds of pilots with the industry in the future.
The central bank is also establishing a CBDC Expert Group comprising a roster of university academics who will advise on issues around privacy protection, cybersecurity and interoperability.
Eddie Yue, the chief executive of the HKMA, says: “While the HKMA has not yet made a decision on whether and when to introduce e-HKD, we are excited to kick-start the e-HKD Pilot Programme, which serves as a tremendous opportunity for the HKMA to collaborate with the industry in exploring innovative use cases and maximising our readiness for a potential e-HKD. By fostering government-industry-academia collaboration in CBDC research, we aim to ensure the relevance of our research and development efforts, and enable the translation of such outcomes into viable business opportunities.”